Founded by Seleucus I Nicator (301-281 B.C.) on the Syrian coast N of the mouth of the Orontes, the city was the port of
Antioch. The Lagids ruled it for a long time in the 3d
c. During the Roman Empire a Roman war fleet was
based on Seleucia. Vespasian in the 1st c. A.D. and Constantius in the 4th renovated the port. Hadrian and
Julian came to sacrifice on Mt. Casios, which borders the
bay of Seleucia to the S.
Today the site is almost deserted. It is located between
the village of Magharadjek in the plain and that of
Keboussie on the mountain. The ancient town was established where the sea, the plain of the Orontes, and the slopes of the Amanus meet. The site consists of a lower town to the SW, an upper town rising in tiers
on the plateau of the NE, and an acropolis high up to
the NE. The main visible remains are the ramparts,
market gate, martyrion, Donic temple, canal of Vespasian, and necropoleis, as well as mosaics taken to various museums.
The long line of the walls has been investigated, including bastions and gates of the upper and lower towns
on the SE where the road from Antioch entered. The
ramparts are of fine polygonal Hellenistic ashlar. The
entry to the lower town, the market gate, was turned into
a fortress at a late date. Two tall semicircular towers
rising from square bases are still standing.
Not far away, along the busiest avenue to the NW,
are the foundations of a sanctuary. It was built on a
radiating plan at the end of the 5th c. A.D. and was restored in the 6th c. It is a cross-shaped martyrion surrounded by an annular ambulatory; the choir has a
rectangular bay and an apse. A baptistery adjoins the
choir to the N.
The foundations of a large Doric temple of Hellenistic
date (almost 37 x 19 m) dominate the town. The temple
is peripteral (6 columns x 12). The cella opens to the
E through a deep porch with two columns between the
antae; it has an adyton and a crypt.
Almost nothing can be seen of the Roman theater.
Luxurious Roman villas were arranged in tiers along the
slopes of the upper town. Their sumptuous polychrome
mosaic pavings are now in the Antioch museum, at the
Art Museum of Princeton University, and in other public collections in the United States.
North of the site a canal, dug in order to divert a
stream which crossed the port, can be followed for more
than 1300 m, sometimes open to the sky, sometimes as
a tunnel; inscriptions on the walls date its construction
to Vespasian and Titus. The double port with its piers
and entry channel has long since been completely silted
Numerous necropoleis surround the town with various types of rock-cut tombs, caves, and sarcophagi.
Modest tombs of sailors of the Roman fleet have been
found between the canal and the port. Large funerary
cippi of the officers bordered the Antioch road in front
of the market gate.
V. Chapot, Séleucie de Piérie
from Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires de France
; H. Seyrig, “Le cimetière des marins à Séleucie de Piérie,” Mélanges syriens offerts à René Dussaud
(1939); R. Stillwell, ed., Antioch on-the-Orontes III: The Excavations of 1937-1939